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The resources provided here summarize the progress that continues as we advance towards energy efficiency at UNC-Chapel Hill.

  • Extreme Energy Team resources are available for our Conserving Carolina Competition.
  • Reports are the responses to various problems that have been posed to members of Energy Management.
  • The Morrison Residence Hall Case Study describes our approaches and conclusions relating to our first attempt at the EPA’s National Building Competition.
  • State Energy and Water Reports give a broad overview of the work done to accomplish this task in each fiscal year.
  • The University of North Carolina’s Energy Summit Collaborative Initiative represents the university’s commitment to working towards a more sustainable lifestyle through the signing of a pledge to encourage involvement, set goals and act.
Light Bulb Comparison
Comparison Incandescent






Life Span 1,200 8,000 50,000
Watts Consumed 60 13 to 15 6 to 8
kWh Consumed per Year for a Single Bulb* 65.7 15.33 7.665
Annual Operating Cost† ($) 7.227 1.6863 0.84315
Contains Mercury No Yes No
Heat Emitted (BTUs/hour) 85 30 3.4

*assuming 3 hours of use per day
†assuming $0.11/kWh

Fluorescent light bulbs are an efficient alternative to incandescent bulbs. One important thing to keep in mind when using fluorescent bulbs is that they contain mercury, a dangerous neurotoxin. In order to prevent potential exposure to this harmful substance when the bulb has burned out, the UNC Department of Environment, Health, and Safety has clearly defined how to safely dispose of the bulbs.


Mercury Bulbs

  • Recycle your fluorescent lamps.
  • Use low-mercury, green tipped bulbs. These are lower in mercury but do still contain mercury at a level that can cause contamination if broken.
  • Store all spent bulbs in Closed boxes, labeled as “Used Bulbs” and Date the container with the first date that a bulb was put into the box. This box must be kept Closed unless a bulb is actively being added to the box.
  • Bulb boxes should be brought to the EHS Storage Facility across from Surplus Property so that they may be collected for recycle.
  • Contact Housekeeping immediately if you break a bulb in a lab or office environment.


  • Do not put used fluorescent bulbs in the trash.
  • Do not intentionally break or crush lamps because mercury will be released.

Most importantly, do not put the fluorescent bulbs in regular trash cans. Instead, place them in a closed box until there are enough to recycle.

The University of North Carolina has the opportunity and the responsibility to educate its 221,000 students at their 17 campuses on the principles and practices of sustainability. According to the North Carolina State Energy Office, The University of North Carolina system spends $226 million per year on energy, approximately $1,000 per student per year. At current levels, a 25% reduction in energy usage would yield a 20-year savings in excess of $1 billion. In the process, precious natural and environmental resources would be preserved for future generations.

To help ensure the ongoing success and collaboration for the energy summit initiative, a signatory document, intended for the Chancellors and Presidents to sign, was created, signaling the importance of the effort to their campus.

View UNC Chapel Hill’s commitment to the initiative, signed by Chancellor Thorp.

Baselining Electricity UsageDuring his internship at UNC Energy Management, RJ Turner was asked to calculate how much energy had been saved by the implementation of ECM (energy conservation measures) in residence halls. This is carried out by developing a baseline that predicts how much energy would have been used had nothing changed in the building. Baselines are calculated based on outside influences, usually weather, and are then compared to the actual usage. The difference between the two is the savings achieved. The issue RJ faced was that electricity in a building as unpredictable as a residence hall can not be accurately predicted from just one variable.

As a result, RJ researched an improved method by with electricity could be baselined. The approach developed returned results that were more than twice as reliable, and for the first time were statistically viable. The results and approached are explained in detail in this report: Developing an Accurate Baseline for Electricity Consumption, Focusing on University Residence Halls.

Occupancy ScheduleOne of the most effective ECM (energy conservation measures) enacted here at UNC is occupancy scheduling in buildings.  This is where the HVAC system is programmed to either turn off, reduce air flows, or increase the range of allowed temperatures while the building is unoccupied. While there was not question as to the effectiveness of the approach, no hard calculations had been done to get a concrete percentage of savings being achieved. The business of saving energy, like any other business, hangs on results, so we enlisted our engineer, RJ Turner, to find a way to calculate the savings being achieved in the most feasibly accurate way possible.

This project ended up presenting more challenges than originally expected. In order to know what energy is being saved, a baseline energy use has to be created. A baseline is a set of values that represent what the energy use would be had nothing changed. The difference between the baseline and the actual usage is the savings. Baselines are usually developed by using data from before the implementation of the ECM. Unfortunately for this project, there wasn’t enough data to pull from before the ECM were implemented. This required a unique approach to baselining.

The method developed calculated average savings of 4.5% and $0.11/ft2 for lab type buildings and 15.4% and $0.24/ft2 for all other building types. This means that for nearly three million square feet the yearly savings for the campus are over $550,000 and 59,550 MMBtu.

Full results and detailed description of approach can be found in this document: A Method for Calculating Chilled Water and Steam Energy Savings Due to Occupancy Scheduling.